UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center is being sued by a pair of women to claim they were subjected to racist and sexist abuse while on the job.

Namesha Cavitt and Takesha Essombe filed the suit last week claiming the hospital failed to prevent a pattern of abuse and unfarily targeted the pair for disciplinary action as retaliation for reporting hate speach.

According to the lawsuit, both women provided testimony in previous lawsuits against the organization that alleged discrimination and harassment at the hospital’s clinical lab. These prior lawsuits included a $1.6 million jury verdict in August 2019 awarded to a Black woman phlebotomist who was the target of persistent racist comments from co-workers and was fired after she complained. Two other similar lawsuits settled out of court.

Following those cases, the suit claims the two women were subjected to threats and harassment.

Within hours of reporting incidents of harassment and bullying at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center last spring, the pair, both, Black women phlebotomists, found threatening notes inside their lockers that read “STOP complaining LESBO, N******,” according to the lawsuit.

In response, UCLA held a 90-minute training seminar about harassment but noone has been disciplined or dismissed for leaving the notes.

The lawsuit alleges that the women were not allowed to take paid leave while the threat was being investigated or while they received treatment for anxiety and post-traumatic stress. It alleges their supervisors failed to take immediate action and that the pair were forced to return to the lab and continue using the locker room while knowing that the person or people who made the threats had neither been located nor held accountable.

To date, no one has been disciplined or dismissed for leaving the notes, said

The pair say they were targeted for disciplinary review following their complaints.

“UCLA’s harassment of and retaliation against these two women has been persistent, insidious, and illegal,” said attorney V. James DeSimone, who is representing Cavitt and Essombe.

said. “This unlawful workplace behavior has been going on since at least 2015 and no one has yet been held to account. If this is how employees are being treated for nearly a decade, it raises a question of whether this racism extends to Black and minority patients when they seek medical treatment.”

The lawsuit seeks damages for race, sex, gender and perceived sexual orientation discrimination; retaliation; failure to prevent harassment and retaliation; and other violations of federal and state employment laws.

UCLA declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...